The marathon pace run. One of the most important components in a successful marathon training plan (for experienced runners). I know that because it wasn’t until I added it, that I drove my marathon time down by over 25 minutes.
I’ve ended up using half marathon races in this training cycle to replace many of the usual marathon pace runs I’d normally have scheduled. All of them in fact – except for one. A 30km run, scheduled for July 5th with 24km of it at marathon pace. This past Saturday, that is.
Now, to get ready for it, I ran 151km the week before (June 22 to 28th). And then I decided to schedule a 120-125km week for June 29th to July 6th. Add to that a good hard tempo workout on the track on Wednesday, July 2nd.
In other words, I wasn’t exactly going into this 24km marathon pace run on the freshest of legs. Making it all the more scary. And when Saturday morning rolled around, I honestly tried to think of excuses to stay in bed just a bit longer – delaying what might be an epic struggle of a run.
A drawn out breakfast and sipping my matcha tea on the couch came to an end far too quickly. Before I knew it I am out the door, standing there in my alley and pressing the ‘start’ button on my GPS. It is set to lap every 3km, so I know that after my 3km warm-up it’s “go-time”. There’s no delaying M pace.
I feel surprisingly good on my warmup easy 3km. This gets me excited and I figure I just might have a good go at this marathon pace run thing after all!
I remember the last time I attempted one of these. Last year. Epic struggle. I was no where near my goal pace and I actually kept stopping my GPS to take a break, just stand there and wonder what I was doing. Yah, it was bad.
My GPS beeps. And so I begin. I don’t look at my pace, I simply begin running at what feels like marathon pace. Now, I won’t lie – it wasn’t easy. But it wasn’t an epic struggle either. It was hard, but it was doable. I was pushing but it felt like I could hang on. My GPS beeped soon again, indicating my first 3 of 24km were down. And I just kept running at what felt like marathon pace.
To be honest I was scared to look at my pace. If I’d seen it over a 5:00/km I know I’d have been disappointed and that this disappointment might negatively impact the remainder of my run. So I just ran. My GPS beeps again. I’ve just run around Science World and I hear my name called out – I’m in a ‘zone’ but then I see them – oh my gosh, they are from White Rock… Far from home, is it them? Tomoko? Marg? Yes, it is them! But now I’ve passed them and I think all I managed to say was, “Oh my gosh!”.
Oh my gosh.
My GPS beeps again, 9 of 24km down, so many more still to go. As I enter Stanley Park I hit my halfway point. I wonder how I can possibly hold on, but then I get stronger. This is weird… But good! I do stop briefly, 3 times in fact, to take in water from the fountain along the way in order to properly wash down my gels.
I love running around Stanley Park. This day is no exception – although it’s a bit busy. I’ve just passed my 15km mark when a huge group of tourists decides to cross the path in front of me. I spot a small opening and zip through. Bang! Someone’s elbow slams against my chest, temporarily winding me. I gasp… And keep running. Darn pedestrians. I’m sure I just gave runners a bad name. My apologies.
Finally I come out of Stanley Park. I’m headed past the pool again, and my GPS beeps – 21km of 24km down. All of a sudden it’s a struggle to continue. I think to myself, I’ve just run a half-marathon. I should get to stop now. Whaaa?!! For someone in training for a full marathon, this is not good logic. So I push on.
And then my GPS beeps. 24km. I’m at the bottom of one of the steepest hills in all of Vancouver (Thurlow). Haha, not that I’d have run up it at M pace even if my GPS hadn’t beeped! I walk up the short steep hill. And then I run easy home.
My week, week 27, is almost over. But first… Sunday.
Sunday rolls around and hubby and run our usual 14km loop. Then I am faced with a decision. Go back out later in order to hit my week’s goal of 120-125km? Or call it a week?
I’m all for double runs, but Sunday just feels like it should be a one-run day to me. Funny the habits and thought processes we form. I go against my logic and get my butt out the door for a final run of the week later that evening, after dinner. And feel so strong I run a few extra kilometres.
Oh! And what was the pace I held for 24km on my M pace run? It equalled an average of 4:59/km.
That means… I am going to run a sub 3:30 marathon. This is good. Very good.
Three more weeks.
- Dec 30 to Jan 5 – 50km (actual – 57km)
- Jan 6 to 12 – 60km (actual – 63km)
- Jan 13 to 19 – 60km (actual – 63km)
- Jan 20 to 26 – 75km (actual – 77km)
- Jan 27 to Feb 2 – 105km (actual – 108km)
- Feb 3 to 9 – 90km (actual – 90km)
- Feb 10 to 16 – 75km (actual – 75km)
- Feb 17 to 24 – 105km (actual – 100km)
- Feb 25 to Mar 2 – 135km (actual – 135km)
- Mar 3 to 9 – 120km (actual – 105km)
- Mar 10 to 16 – 135km (actual 110km)
- Mar 17 to 23 – 150km (actual 83km)
- Mar 24 to 30 – 120km, with specific pace runs (actual 100km – no pace runs)
- Mar 31 to Apr 6 – 120km, with specific pace runs (actual 100km, nailed my pace runs)
- Apr 7 to 13 – 105km, with specific pace runs (actual 75km, got sick in the middle, but nailed all my pace runs)
- Apr 14 to 20 – 135km, with specific pace runs (actual 100km, nailed my pace runs)
- Apr 21 to 27 – 70km, with specific pace run and The Vancouver Sun Run 10km race (actual 48km, good pace run, race = 45:43)
- Apr 28 to May 4 – 105km, with specific pace runs and The BMO Half (actual 74km, race = 1:40:40)
- May 5 to 11 – 150km, with specific pace runs (actual = 58km, with pace run)
- May 12 to 18 – 135km, with specific pace runs (actual = 89km, with pace run)
- May 19 to 25 – 120km, with specific pace runs (actual = 128, with pace run)
- May 26 to June 1 – 150km, with specific pace runs (actual = 94km, with pace run)
- June 2 to 8 – 135km, with Whistler Half (actual 64km, race = 1:45:11)
- June 9 to 15 – 105km, with specific pace runs (actual 82km, no pace runs)
- June 16 to 22 – 150km, with Seattle Half (actual 69km, race = 1:41:08)
- June 23 to 29 – 120km (amended to 150 by coach Carey), with specific pace runs (actual 151km, with pace run)
- June 30 to July 6 – 105km (amended to 120-125 by coach Carey), with specific pace runs (actual 123km, with strong Wed track run & strong Sat M pace run)
- July 7 to 13 – 105km (amended to 115-120 by coach Carey), with specific pace runs
- July 14 to 20 – taper week, 90km, with specific pace runs
- July 21 to 27 – final taper week